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The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"by Alan Light
Synopses & Reviews
Praised as "brilliantly revelatory...a masterful work of critical journalism" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), The Holy or the Broken is the fascinating account of one of the most-performed rock songs in history--Leonard Cohen's heartrending "Hallelujah."
When iconoclastic rocker Leonard Cohen first wrote and recorded the song "Hallelujah," it was for an album rejected by his longtime record label. When finally released, it attracted little attention or airplay. Today, the song is a staple of movies and TV shows as diverse as Shrek and The West Wing and has been covered by hundreds of artists around the world, including Bob Dylan, U2, Justin Timberlake, and k.d. lang. Written with elegance and journalistic precision, The Holy or the Broken charts the rise of "Hallelujah" from obscurity to phenomenal success.
After ten years of obscurity, the song was reimagined by charismatic newcomer Jeff Buckley for his much-anticipated debut album, Grace. Three years after that, Buckley would be dead, his album largely unknown, and "Hallelujah" still unreleased as a single. After two such commercially disappointing outings, how did one little-known song become an international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, a song each successive generation seems to feel they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own?
Through in-depth interviews with its interpreters and the key figures who witnessed its original recordings, acclaimed music journalist Alan Light follows the improbable journey of "Hallelujah" straight to the heart of popular culture. "Thoughtful and illuminating" (The New York Times), The Holy or the Broken gives insight into how great songs come to be, how they come to be listened to, and how they can be forever reinterpreted.
Praised as “brilliantly revelatory…a masterful work of critical journalism” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), The Holy or the Broken is the fascinating account of one of the most-performed rock songs in history—Leonard Cohen’s heartrending “Hallelujah.”
How did one obscure song become an international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, a song each successive generation seems to feel they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own? Celebrated music journalist Alan Light follows the improbable journey of “Hallelujah” straight to the heart of popular culture.
About the Author
Alan Light has been one of America’s leading music journalists for the past twenty years. He was a writer at Rolling Stone, founding music editor and editor-in-chief of Vibe, and editor-in-chief of Spin magazine. He has been a contributor to The New Yorker, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, and Mother Jones. He is the author of The Skills to Pay the Bills, an oral history of the Beastie Boys; The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”; and cowriter of the New York Times bestselling memoir by Gregg Allman, My Cross to Bear.
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